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Deficit to defy forecasts

WASHINGTON — Stagnant unemployment, shrinking tax revenue and a struggling economy threaten to quadruple the size of last year’s federal budget deficit, raising more questions about the timing of costly proposals to overhaul health care.

As the White House and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepare to release new deficit estimates this month, several economists say the news is likely to be as bad as or worse than forecasts.

“This is going to be a very depressing outlook,” predicts former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, top adviser to Republican John McCain in last year’s presidential election. “They have just a nightmare in terms of these health care bills, which do nothing but make things worse.”

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